It’s true. The way we were taught to monitor and coach is just not that effective. First, who has time to coach effectively? Second, ask the reps how they feel about their coaching program, and third, look at your results; the analytics. Are you really seeing quantitative and qualitative improvements?
My entire career has been focused on, and I am clearly passionate about, two things:
- ensuring customers get a World Class Service experience during every single interaction
- that representatives are respected, valued, invested in and coached and are continually intellectually challenged so that they achieve their highest level of performance and feel proud about their contribution to world as service professionals.
How our Monitoring and Coaching Programs are designed and administered has a direct impact on those two items listed above.
Traditional Monitoring and Coaching
The most common way monitoring and coaching programs are administered today focuses on a coach listening to recorded interactions, completing a “Monitoring Form” and scoring the interaction. Most of the behaviors on the form are measured by a “yes” or “no”. In other words, either it happened or it didn’t during the interaction.
In many organizations, the representative has a “coaching session” with the coach who then plays the recorded interaction and then reviews the completed monitoring form with the representative. The conversation usually sounds something like this: “So, Jane, we just listened to your call with John Smith. Let’s go through and look at the Monitoring Form and see what we have…. Ok, you received a score of 70%, which is ok, and mostly because you did not ask permission to put the caller on hold and you didn’t thank the caller for holding when you came back on the line. Oh, and you didn’t recap and thank the caller for calling at then end of the interaction. But on the other hand, you did probe effectively and you did have a nice vocal tone and quality.”
Doesn’t sound that bad, right?
Let’s take a look at this “coaching session” more closely though. In this case, the representative received a score that wasn’t stellar. Think about it…if you received a performance appraisal that rated you a score of 70% out of 100%, would you feel good about that? That’s a C-.
Now let’s think about it from the representative’s perspective. She is probably thinking, “Ok, so because I didn’t ask permission to put the caller on hold, didn’t thank them for holding, didn’t recap and didn’t thank them for calling, my call is almost failing? I mean, the customer sounded really happy and even glowed about how helpful I was and I addressed the issue and resolved it!”
What’s wrong with this picture and what happens next? Clearly the representative is not happy with the “score.” What she realizes is that even though all those behaviors required during the interaction weren’t performed, it didn’t really make a difference to the customer. So she is not feeling good about this “coaching” session and probably won’t change how she performs her job. The more she thinks about it, the more disenchanted she becomes. In fact, she is beginning to think this is pretty stupid and nit-picky. She knows that the next time she gets called into a coaching session, she will be more prepared to defend her call handling and the fact that most of the behaviors expected on the form are not even necessary.
Now let’s look about it from the coach’s perspective. The coach begins to get that sinking feeling that Jane isn’t that happy and doesn’t agree with her assessment. Well, Jane is going to have to get over it, she thinks, because this is the standard and all of the behaviors are required. We all can pretty much guess how it’s going to go from this point on.
So this is how Traditional Quality/Coaching/Monitoring Programs become unsuccessful and even foster a negative culture.
Discovery Coaching and Calibration
Having discovered how common this dilemma is in contact center organizations, I made it my mission to design and implement a coaching program that would foster openness to feedback, representative engagement, performance improvement and would result in improved customer satisfaction and loyalty. I knew when customers walked away from an interaction with a service provider being “wowed” by the experience it would be the true measure of success! And I also knew that when representatives embrace their coaching and are excited about the experience, I would have achieved my goal. I am delighted to report that it has happened and I have found “the way” and it’s through what I call, Discovery Coaching and Calibration™ (in addition to Advanced Strategic Interaction Skills™ for representatives).
Discovery Coaching and Calibration™ Program Elements
If you truly want to change the “Monitoring Culture” and realize significant improvements in employee engagement and morale, call interaction handling and customer engagement and loyalty, the following elements are critical:
- Coaches who are trained and highly skilled in the art of Discovery Coaching™ which involves excellent strategic questioning skills and outstanding people partnering skills
- A common language and questioning strategy that focuses on the interaction outcome
- Appropriate time allocation for both representatives and coaches to listen to recorded interactions together
- A Monitoring Form (I call it an Observation Form) that reflects behaviors the will elicit a specific response/feeling from the customer
- A highly skilled coaching and calibration facilitator and process owner that can serve to develop coaches and ensure program continuity and adherence
- Ongoing and regular facilitated calibration sessions for the management team that includes coaching the coaches
- A scoring schema that is driven based on interaction outcome, not individual behaviors
Do It Now…It’s Really Worth It!
While this all may seem complicated, it really isn’t. I have implemented this quite successfully in many organizations. In one organization, within two weeks of using this program the Contact Center Director received a number of emails from representatives to tell her how good they felt about the new way of getting coached and how they were committed improving! This was after years of no measurable improvement and a lot of representative resistance. It nearly brought me to tears. Told you I was passionate about this!
Elizabeth A. Ahearn is CEO of Radclyffe Partners, LLC, a professional services firm dedicated to helping clients deliver World Class Service to their customers. Radclyffe designs and develops proven, yet customized training, coaching and consulting solutions and is an outsourcing partner for call monitoring, coaching, calibration and training design, development and delivery. 973-291-8947 www.radclyffepartners.com
Want more information?